Physician Assistant Studies
Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education
Introduction: Demographic trends forecast an increasing population of aging, chronically ill patents in rural areas of the Southeastern United States. Most healthcare professionals opt to practice in or near urban areas because of higher incomes and nearness to desirable facilities. This leaves a chronic shortage of healthcare providers in rural areas where they are critically needed. A university located in one of the critically underserved areas started a program to train physician assistants with the idea that most of the students would be residents of the area and tend to stay in the area to practice after graduation.
Purpose of study: This study will examine if the students graduating from the physician assistant training program in a medically underserved area of the Southeastern United States practiced in the area after graduation.
Materials and methods: A survey was done to determine if the students who graduated in the first year of the physician assistant training program were practicing in a medically underserved area.
Results and discussions: The survey revealed that 58.8% of the students who responded to the survey were employed as a primary care provider, 100% of the students completed their required clerkship in the medically underserved area after graduation and 65.6% are practicing in the area two years after graduation from the program.
Conclusion: From this case study, it can be inferred that one option for community leaders and concerned citizens interested in increasing the number of healthcare providers in medically underserved areas is to implement programs to offer training for local residents to become primary healthcare providers. The programs will train residents who will tend to remain in the area to practice and provide critically needed primary healthcare providers.
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